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A Quick Checklist for Translation Projects

As translators, we're all about systems and processes. If you work for an agency or agencies, then you are familiar with project management workflow. If you work with direct clients or small jobs for individuals, you still have a process -- approach, method, steps -- whether you realize it or not. One key to maximizing your effectiveness (notice I did not say productivity), is consciously identifying these steps to success and repeating them consistently. Checklists can help. Below is an example of how I approach translation projects. I take a similar approach to interpreting assignments with some adjustments for the difference in delivery mode, oral rather than written.

Questions to ask when bidding translation projects

For Translators:

  • How many words or pages is the document?

  • In what format is it? What is the subject matter?

  • In what format is the translation needed?

  • What is the deadline (always specify the time zone)?

  • Does the client have any reference material or existing translations?

  • How and when will the client pay you?

Questions to ask before starting a translation project

Text overview:

  • Theme

  • Purpose

  • Audience

  • Structure

Analysis of text:

  • Ideas

  • Purpose

  • Keywords and arguments (mind map)

  • Tone

Things to keep in mind:

  • Investigate unfamiliar terms and concepts

  • Review previously translated materials

  • Beware of false friends

  • Perform a group review (if you work with a team or partner)

Actions items after completing a translation project

  • Ask for feedback from collaborators (translation team, proofreaders, editors, etc.)

  • Ask for feedback from client

  • Ask for LinkedIn Recommendation and Endorsements (but only after the client has expressed their satisfaction with your work)

Hopefully this gives you some ideas. If you have something else that works for you, feel free to share it in the comments.

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